Distracted Doctoring | Electronic Devices Places Patient Safety at Risk

Hoping to decrease the risk of medical error, hospitals and physicians’ offices have invested heavily to place iPads, iPhones and other electronic devices into the hands of medical staff for instant access to patient data, drug information and case studies. The implementation of this technology in our healthcare system has come with an unintended side effect that is well-supported in the literature – During critical care moments caregivers are concentrating on their electronic device screens rather than the patient.

Distracted Doctoring is a term coined in a recent publication that discussed surgeons who use laptops, iPhones & iPads while performing surgery. A plaintiff medical malpractice attorney from Denver, Scott Eldredge, recently represented a patient who was left partially paralyzed after surgery. The neurosurgeon was distracted intraoperatively using a wireless headset to talk on his cell phone, at least 10 of them to family and business associates, according to discovery – His client’s case was settled before a medical negligence lawsuit was filed. Additionally, a peer-reviewed study published this year in Perfusion, a journal on cardio-pulmonary bypass (CPB), reported medical personnel while performing CPB compromised patient safety – 55% admitted to texting, 21% admitted to checking email, 15% admitted to internet navigating, and 3% admitted to posting on social networking sites.  

Patient Safety Concerns:

▪ Standard of Care is breached by non-adherence to intraoperative sterile technique

▪ HIPAA violation

▪ The growing number of wrongful deaths & grave personal injuries is rampant

▪ Introduction of Electronic Medical Records (EMR’s) adds confusion

▪ Attorneys routinely request the opposing party’s iPhone, iPad & cell phone records

One in twenty hospital patients will develop a nosocomial infection – outcomes are devastating as well as deadly. 290,000 post-sugrical site infections occur every year. Contaminated hands of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers are common causes. 

The American Medical Association supports that a physician’s first priority should be with the patient, yet the technology’s ubiquitous influence has clearly come between the doctor and patient. Dr. Peter J. Papadakos at the University of Rochester Medical Center, recently published an article in the journal Anesthesiology News on electronic distraction, and stated “as doctors use more devices, potential for distraction grows – lives are in danger and it’s only getting worse”.  

Standardization is mandated for resolution – All hospitals and outpatient surgical centers must have strict guidelines in place regarding the use of electronic devices during surgery without exception. Patients also have the right to video record their surgery.

With patient safety now at greater risk, electronic distraction has created an increased demand for Certified Legal Nurse Consultants. Please contact Kathleen A. Mary, RN, CLNC to assist you in your next medical-legal case.




This entry was posted in Legal Nurse Consulting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *